Court finds Human Rights Tribunal breached eEmployer's right to a fair hearing

In Imperial Parking v. Bali the British Columbia Supreme Court found the Human Rights Tribunal denied the employer a fair hearing by failing to provide it with adequate notice of the case to meet and the opportunity to bring evidence and make argument.

The employer applied to dismiss a complaint under the Human Rights Code on the basis that it was filed out of time. In dismissing the employer’s application, the Tribunal relied on documents of the former Human Rights Commission which the Tribunal purported were computer screen print outs concerning the timing of the receipt of the complaint. The employer argued that these documents were hearsay and that it would be unfair to rely on them to determine the timeliness of the complaint without allowing the employer the opportunity to test their reliability.

The Tribunal dismissed the employer’s objection and relied on its statutory power to receive and accept evidence even though it may not be admissible in a court of law. The employer applied to the Court for judicial review of the Tribunal’s decision.

The Court found that while the Tribunal had the power to admit hearsay evidence even if it would be inadmissible in a court of law, that power did not permit it to rely on such evidence without considering whether it was reliable. Further, the Tribunal had a duty to provide the employer with an opportunity to present evidence and make argument concerning the reliability of that evidence prior to accepting it as fact.

The Tribunal’s decision was set aside and the Tribunal was ordered to reconsider the matter.

Imperial Parking v. Bali et al, 2005 BCSC 643